This post has been several months in the making.  It is a follow-up to a previous post What happens when a metallurgist weapon engineer reads fantasy.

In that post I postulated that silver plated monolithic copper hollowpoints would be more effective than the Cor-Bon Powerball type silver bullets that Larry Correia describe in his Monster Hunter International series.

If you haven’t read that post yet, go back and do it.

Well, I thought about it for a while and decided to just fucking do it.

I started by purchasing Barnes 185 grain, 0.451 inch, 45 ACP TAC-XP all copper hollowpoints.


I gave them a quick bath in an ultrasonic cleaner with a commercial degreaser.

Then I sent them off for plating.

I made a bit of an estimate for a first plating spec:

ASTM B700 silver plate, Type II (99.0%), semi-bright, no chromate finish, 0.0005-in thickness.

That should give a good balance of toughness and ductility.  Pure silver is both very expensive and not particularly durable.  The addition of 1% brighters adds a little strength and reduces tarnish.

The bullets I got back looked good.


Keep in mind that a plating is only as good as the surface finish of the substrate.

If you were expecting it to look like silver jewelry, I would have had to polish the copper to a high shine.  These are bullets, this is what silver plate looks like for industrial applications, like electrical connections.

My plater was even able to adjust the current to throw the plating into the hollowpoint cavity.

That is tough to do.  Electrolytic plating usually doesn’t plate well on concave surfaces.



Now I got excited.

I checked the bullet dimensions with a micrometer.  They ranged from 0.45059 to 0.45105 inches.  The diameter was well within spec for the bore size.

The weight also was 185 to 186 grains.

The quantity of silver was low enough not to affect the diameter or weight outside the tolerance of the bullets.

I had a colleague load some rounds for me.

I’m not exactly what load data he used but it was a published, standard pressure load for the Barnes TAC-XP bullet.

Here are the loaded rounds.


Next was a live fire expansion test.

I wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel.  The Barnes bullet has an established track record of being an excellent performer.  Penetration in gel is constantly about 16 inches, with good expansion, and of course, 100% weight retention.

If you’re interested, YouTube is full of ballistic gel tests of the Barnes bullet.

I was interested in seeing how the plating handled a trip down the bore and expansion.

I trust the Bullet would do exactly what it was designed to do.

I used a Para-Ord 1911 as my platform, with an AAC TiTAN 45 can.


I fired into a barrel of water.  This would be the easiest way to capture the bullets after expansion.

Here are the results.


There is still a lot of silver still adhered to the surface of the bullets.

The bases are completely covered with silver, as is also the bottom of the hollowpoint cavity.

The sides are still plated where the bullet contacted the grooves of the rifling.

There was some plating loss were the bullets were engraved by the lands of the rifling.

The tips and underside of the pedals retained plating as well.

There appeared to be no plating loss on the front of the bullets.  It appears as though the plating was stretched and cracked in the region where the pedals underwent the most severe deformation exposing the copper substrate, but the silver is still adhered to the surface.

For a first attempt with a plating spec I made an educated guess at, I think the results are extremely positive.

Remember that I postulated that the silver affects monsters by surface contact.

The use of a silver clad bayonet on Owen’s Abomination indicates that.

Scientifically, that makes sense if you assume that silver acts as some sort of catalyst on monsters.  Precious metals, including silver, are used as catalysts in other chemical reactions.  Catalysts are not consumed, and the effectiveness of a solid state catalyst is entirely driven by surface area.

Given that assumption, it’s clear that the exposed silver surface area on a silver plated copper hollowpoint is orders of magnitude more than the surface area of a tiny silver ball in the cavity of a standard jacketed hollowpoint.

This would be a more effective bullet.

Additional, with the use of a tiny quantity of silver, plated on with a thickness of 0.0005 inches, the raw material cost of silver is substantially decreased over the silver ball design.

One ounce of silver could plate hundreds of bullets.  At current market rates of $21/Oz, the cost of silver would go from $30 per mag of ammo to $30 per case of ammo.  PUFF bounties may be high, but there is no reason to reject a cost savings on materials.

This is not the first bullet I’ve improved the performance of with metallurgy.  However, the previous design was not intended for the supernatural.

If you follow this blog you probably know of other posts I’ve done on the technical aspects of making the things that make other things dead.

It’s what I do for a living and it’s what I’m good at.

Better killing through metallurgy.

Now, better monster killing through metallurgy.

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By J. Kb

6 thoughts on “Better monster killing through metallurgy”
  1. Props to J.Kb for that one… very ‘on brand’ and pretty interesting too.

    Im not big into the whole monster fantasy stuff… ok maybe I like the idea of Zombieland, but never studied the science of killing the supernatural. So very informative. Question from the uninitiated – would these theoretically work on vampires?

    Also – I know the choice of unplated cases makes the most sense and ease for the reloader, but I bet those would look even better in nickel plated +P cases…. Let me know if you’re interested in some 1x fired empties you could use for round 2, I’ll ship ’em to ya!

    1. According to the MHI series, vampires are best dealt with by staking followed by decapitation. These would be about as effective as regular bullets: not very, unless delivered in massive quantity, rapidly, to the right place. And then you still need to decapitate.
      One thing that got me hooked on the series is, unlike a lot of fantasy, Larry Correia spent some time thinking about the ground rules for how things worked, including the “why” in some cases, made them reasonably consistent, and then followed them.

  2. Perhaps not as effective as the MCB’s sintered silver rounds in terms of surface area, but almost certainly better penetration and absolutely a LOT less expensive!
    Anybody know how to point LC to this post? I think he’s on FB, but I’m not.

  3. Very interesting experiment. Appreciate the work. Was wondering if you have ever worked with the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Defender bullets or the Xtreme Penetrator bullets. And my question is, why does the larger size Penetrator bullet nose produce better penetration than the more narrow, smaller Defender bullet nose. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with these two rounds yet, I would love to provide you with two boxes of each round in trade for some analysis.
    I’ve tested them against all the best performing hollow points, in ballistics gel, and they do create a larger wound channel with slightly better penetration distance. The Xtreme penetrator round however proved to be the best barrier-blind round of all S.D. rounds.

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